Advertisement

Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

Grandma
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language and some drug use
Release Date:
August 21, 2015

 

Iris
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some strong language
Release Date:
May 1, 2015

We Are Your Friends
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language throughout, drug use, sexual content and some nudity
Release Date:
August 28, 2015

 

Aloha
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some language including suggestive comments
Release Date:
May 30, 2015

Z for Zachariah
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for a scene of sexuality, partial nudity, and brief strong language
Release Date:
August 28, 2015

 

Big Game
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action and violence, and some language
Release Date:
June 26, 2015

New in Theaters

grade:
B+

Grandma

Lowest Recommended Age:
Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language and some drug use
Release Date:
August 21, 2015
grade:
B-

We Are Your Friends

Lowest Recommended Age:
Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language throughout, drug use, sexual content and some nudity
Release Date:
August 28, 2015
grade:
B+

Z for Zachariah

Lowest Recommended Age:
High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for a scene of sexuality, partial nudity, and brief strong language
Release Date:
August 28, 2015

Advertisement

New to DVD

pick of the week
grade:
B+

Iris

Lowest Recommended Age:
Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some strong language
Release Date:
May 1, 2015
grade:
B

Aloha

Lowest Recommended Age:
High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some language including suggestive comments
Release Date:
May 30, 2015
grade:
B

Big Game

Lowest Recommended Age:
Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action and violence, and some language
Release Date:
June 26, 2015

Advertisement

Bewitched

posted by rkumar
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Movie Release Date:2005
A-
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
Movie Release Date: 2005

This update of the 1960’s television series that is still running on TV Land is as cute as the magical twitch of Samantha Stephens’ nose. Director and co-writer (with her sister Delia) Nora Ephron have given us more than the usual retro-infused with a wink of irony-style updates of the television shows loved by the kids of the 1970’s who are now working in Hollywood like Starsky and Hutch and Charlie’s Angels. The Ephrons have given it a bit of a meta-tilt. The television series about a witch who marries a mortal has been turned into a movie about an update of the beloved series, starring a has-been movie star (Will Ferrell) and a newcomer who has never acted before but who happens to be, in real life…a witch.

Isabel (Nicole Kidman) doesn’t know very much about what it means to be “normal,” but she knows she wants to try it. She wants to debate the color of the walls and make popcorn in the microwave. “I want to have days when my hair is affected by the weather!”

Over the objections of her father (Michael Caine), she moves into a suburban house, buys some groceries, and settles in, dreaming of finding someone who will need her.

So, of course she runs into the neediest guy alive, Jack Wyatt (Ferrell), a movie star whose combination of professional and personal disasters has left him professionally and personally vulnerable to the point of complete desperation. He agrees to be in an updated television series based on the classic “Bewitched,” as long as this time it is his role — Darren the mortal husband — who has the lead. For that reason, the part of Samantha the witch must go to an unknown.

At first, Isabel is delighted to go along with this plan. Her unfamiliarity with the human world leads her to accept whatever people say without looking for attempts to mislead her — intentional or not. Things get complicated, and like the character Isabel plays, she finds herself unable to resist using her powers.

There are some sharp and clever takes on the differences between the sexes (especially the interest of older men in younger women) and on the similarities between being a witch and being a star — in both cases, “you snap your fingers and pretty much anything you want happens.” There are even sharper takes on the similarities between being a witch and just being a woman. Jack finds out that the most powerful “hex” isn’t when Isabel twitches her nose but when she puts her foot down.

Kidman makes Isabel’s innocence fresh and beguiling as nose-tickling champagne bubbles. Ferrell’s reliable cluelessness works well for his spoiled baby of a movie star: “Make 20 cappucinos and bring me the best one!” he bellows. Fans of the series will appreciate the tweaks and salutes of the original (which still looks pretty good in clips from the first episode, even in black and white). Just like the original Samantha, Isabel and Jack learn that real magic is no match for falling in love.

Parents should know that this movie has some mild language and sexual references and a non-explicit sexual situation. There is some social drinking and some comic, pratfall-style violence.

Families who see this movie should talk about why someone with the kind of powers Isabel had would want to be “normal.” Why was it important to her to be needed? When you have a problem, how do you decide whether to “put up with it, quit, or just get mad?”

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy the original Bewitched television series. As shown in this movie, the first season was filmed in black and white, so avoid the colorized DVD and stick with the authentic version.

Fans of the series will also enjoy this book about the show, with a foreward by series director (and former husband of Elizabeth Montgomery) William Asher. Where the Girls Are is a fascinating book about the movies and television of the Bewitched era, with a thoughtful assessment of the difference between the powers of Samantha Stevens and Jeannie, both, according to the author, responses to some of the cultural controversy over the changes in expectations and opportunities for women.

Families will also enjoy movies with similar themes, including the classics I Married a Witch and Bell, Book, and Candle. And they will enjoy the movies written by the screenwriter parents of Nora and Delia Ephron, especially Desk Set.

The Deal

posted by rkumar
D
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2005
D
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date: 2005

There is an amateur quality to this film that might be endearing if it was not so self-righteous and almost deliberately ignorant. Though written by a former investment banker, it has been dumbed down to Hollywood’s idea about Wall Street as interpreted by 1960’s “issue” television programs. It plays like a very special episode of “The Name of the Game” or “Mannix.” But dumber.

Tom (Christian Slater) is an honest investment banker with a Wall Street firm that has an impeccable reputation but no revenues (those two items may be connected). And he is catnip to the ladies — they all go for him in a big way. Christian Slater is also the movie’s executive producer, and those two items are most certainly related.

He persuades idealistic Abbey (Selma Blair) to join his firm instead of working for a public interest group. He tells her she can do more to achieve change from Wall Street and her kindly professor tells her that she may be going into a nest of vipers, but she will be a mongoose. Unless she succumbs to being a viper. Yes, that is the way people talk in this movie. The dialogue is so heavy with exposition that it is like asking the actors to chew rocks.

When Tom’s best friend is mysteriously murdered, Tom is given a chance to work on the friend’s project, a deal involving oil drilling in one of the former Soviet republics. The friend’s boss hopes that Tom will be so overwhelmed by data outside his specialty that he will not realize that the deal is not all it seems — or that he will be so dazzled by the $20 million fee that it won’t matter to him.

Tom is distracted by dalliances with a woman who says something to him about research and hangs up on him all the time (Angie Harmon) and with pure-hearted Abbey. Blair is given so little to build a character with here that all she can manage is an earnest knitting of the brow and a peppy little wave. Betrayal, corruption, bad guys with accents, blah blah blah and everyone is shocked, shocked, to find profiteering and lies in the worlds of finance and politics.

There are small but genuinely bizarre tangents, including a surreal appearance by a real-life Congressman, and a villain who suddenly starts speaking with an accent halfway through the story. But there is not one moment that is authentic or, even, what’s that word? Interesting.

Parents should know that the movie has very strong language and some peril and violence (guns, characters killed). There are several scenes in bars and characters drink to socialize and to deal with stress. There are sexual references and non-explicit sexual situations.

Families who see this movie should talk about the conflict Tom had to resolve. What was the best way for Abbey to achieve her goal of pursuing alternative sources of energy? What does it mean to be a mongoose in a nest of vipers?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Rollover.

The Honeymooners

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Movie Release Date:2005
C+
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
Movie Release Date: 2005

The classic television show The Honeymooners has been not so much updated as aoftened and sweetened. The original, half a century later, is fresher and more contemporary than this stale marshmallow of a remake.

The appeal of the original was its grittiness. The low-budget sets and grainy black and white images suited the story of the bus driver with more heart than brains, whose get-rich-quick schemes always backfired and the wife whose acid commentary could etch glass.

Half a century later, Alice (Gabrielle Union) and Trixie (Regina Hall) have jobs (they are waitresses). The big ideas Ralph (Cedric the Entertainer) comes up with include such contemporary notions as a Y2K survival kit and a fanny pack. But the movie, produced by Cedric and his co-star Mike Epps (as Ed Norton, the sewer “specialist”), can’t quite bring itself to go to the comic edge the way the original did, in an era when a “To the moon, Alice!” threat, even an empty one, is no longer tolerable.

All that leaves is a lackluster series of skits with about enough laughs to fill a movie trailer and outtakes over the credits that are more entertaining than anything that came before. Eric Stoltz is a bland bad guy and a weak attempt at mother-in-law humor starts poorly and goes downhill. In an odd meta-moment, when Ralph says he is going to his Lodge, Alice asks whether he thinks he is Fred Flintstone. Of course the Flintstones in general and Fred’s Buffalo Lodge in particular were somewhere between a tribute and a rip-off of the original “Honeymooners” and Ralph’s Raccoon Lodge.

It is a nice thought to give us a chance to see how Ralph and Alice first meet each other. But that very beginning sets us off in the wrong direction because it establishes their relationship in a way that suffocates any chance to locate the comedy in the frustration and disappointment of the original characters.

It’s an affront to our memories of the classic series, but the more serious crime is the poor use it makes of five supremely talented performers, including John Leguizamo as a dog trainer (among other things). Cedric and Epps go off in a zillion different directions trying to get the money for a down payment on the duplex of Alice’s dreams, and some of them are very funny (they breakdance in retro outfits that make Cedric look like Rerun from “What’s Happening” and there’s a clever joke about what men and women talk about). Leguizamo’s dialogue has some bright spots (“I started with nothing and I got most of it left!”). But it feels like a series of jokes, not a story. The pacing sags and it feels endless. This one doesn’t go to the moon — like Ralph’s bus and Ed’s sewers, it goes in the wrong direction and just gets stuck.

Parents should know that there is some crude humor (reference to “ho’s,” Ed tells Ralph he saw Alice naked, etc.). There is comic peril, but no one gets hurt. Characters smoke and drink.

Families who see this movie should talk about why the house was so important to Alice and how Alice and Ralph could have communicated better to prevent some of their problems.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the original series as well as better movies by Cedric (The Kings of Comedy — for mature audiences), Hall (Malibu’s Most Wanted), Union (Bring it On, and Leguizamo (Romeo + Juliet).

Howl’s Moving Castle

posted by rkumar
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:2005
B
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date: 2005

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones seems especially suitable for adaptation by Hayao Miyazaki because it has many of his favorite themes. The central character is a young girl who shows determination and loyalty when she is brought into a world of strange and magical characters, many of whom appear oddly remote. She faces challenges that teach her that she is more capable and loving and deserving of love than she knew. And it has the kinds of settings that Miyazaki loves to illustrate, with intricate mechanical devices, characters who are transformed or disguised, and shifts of angles and planes that show off his gift for vertiginous perspectives.

The story is about a girl who is transformed into an old woman by a witch whose spell prevents her from even telling anyone what happened. So, she becomes the cleaning lady for a mysterious wizard who lives in a magical castle that flies from one place to another.

It turns out she is not the only one who is not what she seems. A graceful but silent scarecrow, a wheezing dog, a little boy, the wizard, and even the wicked witch will all have unexpected transformations as they try to escape from the order of the king, who wants all magicians to help him fight a war.

There are some gorgeous visuals,a lush field of flowers, a charming town, and the endlessly inventive castle, which moves along on chicken feet. But like the title character, it seems to be missing a heart. The characters are reserved and distant, and they tolerate, even seem to expect a level of disengagement from enemies, friends, and even family that is disconcerting. The voice talents include Lauren Bacall, Blythe Danner, and Christian Bale, but they never mesh; it’s as though each is in a different movie. It is unsettling that the objects — a flame (voice of Billy Crystal), a scarecrow, even the machines seem to have more personality than the humans. Ultimately, it is easier to appreciate the movie than to be enchanted or engaged by it.

Parents should know that this movie includes battle violence and frequent peril and tense confrontations. Characters are transformed or disguised in forms that may be troubling to some in the audience. A character smokes a cigar. There is brief non-sexual nudity (tush) and implied off-screen nudity.

Families who see this movie should talk about the advantages and disadvantates Sophie finds in being old. Why does she change her mind about the witch?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the Oscar-winning Spirited Away. They should read the book and some of the other stories by Diana Wynne Jones. They will also enjoy the books of Lloyd Alexander, Brian Jaques, and Tamora Pierce.

Previous Posts

Worst Accents in Movies
Thanks to Indiewire for including me in this great rundown of the all-time worst movie accents. Critics vented frustration and fury, many picking Quentin Tarantino and Dick van Dyke, but I went with two actors who played Robin ...

posted 2:13:18pm Aug. 28, 2015 | read full post »

Grandma
Lily Tomlin is cranky, feisty, tough, and utterly irresistible in this story of a grandmother who has to visit past decisions about her own life in order ...

posted 5:50:55pm Aug. 27, 2015 | read full post »

We Are Your Friends
Director Max Joseph brings some of the "Catfish" sensibility to "We Are Your Friends," with an intimate, documentary feel and a storyline ...

posted 5:35:22pm Aug. 27, 2015 | read full post »

Z for Zachariah
In 1959, a movie called The World, The Flesh And The Devil imagined a post-apocalyptic world with three surviving humans. In the words of the 1960's television series, "The Mod Squad," they could be described as "one black, one white, one ...

posted 5:31:48pm Aug. 27, 2015 | read full post »

Being Evel
Evel Knievel was an international celebrity in the 1960's-70's, known for three things: showmanship, stunts that succeeded, and stunts that failed. He was recognized for jumping over 19 cars in his motorcycle, for crash-landing after trying to ...

posted 5:13:51pm Aug. 27, 2015 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.